Delinquente Wine Co. was born out of a lightbulb moment where Con-Greg Grigoriou, who had wandered far from the family business growing grapes and making wine, saw a possibility in his region that he hadn’t imagined possible. What followed was a deep investigation into varieties and methods that suited the hot climate of the Riverland. Today, Grigoriou makes a range of Southern Italian varieties, with a key focus on bright fruit and detailed but uncomplicated drinkability.
Like many winemakers, Grigoriou travelled the world before settling down to make his own wine and launch his own label. The thing is, Grigoriou wasn’t making wine on his travels, drinking it sure, but his background growing up on a vineyard in South Australia’s Riverland didn’t remotely foster in him a desire to make the stuff. “Then I tasted wines that spoke to me. Small production, wild wines from organically grown vineyards that were super refreshing and really fun to drink. I gave it a crack myself,” he says. That was 2013. With a tonne each of vermentino and montepulciano made in a corner of a 20,000-tonne winery in the Riverland, Delinquente Wine Co. was born.
After completing a commerce degree from the University of Adelaide and getting a bit of the wanderlust out of his system, Grigoriou plied his trade in the advertising industry in Melbourne. Wine wasn’t really in the picture, but the Riverland remained a big influence, and there was a deeply felt connection.
“The Riverland is where I grew up, so to me it’s incredibly special. The hugely open, bright blue sky. The heat rising up off the road and the red dirt. But then, the lush, calming, cooling Murray River, giving life and sustenance to the people, plants and animals that live near it. The river is peaceful like nowhere else I know – the constant, slow and steady flow of the water moving downstream is pretty meditative. It’s a special place,” he says.
But the Riverland of his childhood and early adulthood didn’t make the kind of wines that would have caught Grigoriou’s attention. Indeed, it was that newer wave bottle that opened his eyes to the possibilities working with different varieties and different techniques could open up for his home territory. Working from the winery-bar-events-space, called Oddio, he shares with Steven Crawford (Frederick Stevenson Wines) in Adelaide, this is still the approach that has continued to drive Delinquente.
“It is hot and dry [in the Riverland], so we work with Southern Italian grape varieties that are naturally drought tolerant and can handle the blazing heat. We pick early to make low alcohol, acid driven wines that adhere to our minimal intervention approach. We work with growers that farm organically and biodynamically because we believe a healthy vineyard produces the best wines. And we’ve always tried to play to our strengths – fun, fruit forward, approachable, super smashy wines at a price point that is easy for people to swallow,” he says.
Winemaking follows a minimal intervention path, with native yeasts and without the intrusion of oak. The core range includes a pair of pét-nats, one made from vermentino and lagrein and the other from bianco d’alessano, a varietal vermentino, a montepulciano, a nero d’avola rosato and a blend of negroamaro and nero d’avola. The small-batch Hell range pushes the boundaries of experimentation. In Hell, expect to find an aromatic and textural rosé, a skin-contact malvasia and a skin-contact vermentino, and a negroamaro-based blend, “very much in that light, splashy, natty style red vibe.”